Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Garden

Although I love my ornamentals, my vegetables and fruit trees give me a greater feeling of accomplishment when they do well. And I must admit I don't get a feeling of disappointment when they don't do well. A no lose endeavor in the feelings department if you know what I mean. I don't like it when the nine banded dirt digger from hell [armadillo] gets into the raised bed and destroys the whole lot of my fall beet crop too late for replanting. It is just the trials of gardening. After all, the seeds only cost a buck or so. But let him dig up a new golden orange Shrimp plant that I looked high and low for, with months expended in the search, and I will stay up nights to exact my revenge. And the cost was more than a pack of seeds, you can bet on that. I'm getting flushed with anger just thinking about it. But don't worry about the armadillo, I released it down the road in front of a neighbors house that waters his lawn too much. Thaaat's right, I am just that mean.

There are ornamentals that evoke strong feelings in me. Some of my gimme plants mean a lot to me, especially ones from my mother, my sister and close friends. With the vegetables it is different. They are food...good, healthy, better tasting, and cheaper food. You feel that you have accomplished something grand to actually produce some of your own food. I think if all gardeners would have some food plants in their gardens it would make for feelings of that accomplishment in them as well. And cropping through the garden with a little bowl of Ranch dressing ain't bad either.

Remember the aerial picture of the winter garden plants in the raised beds that I took off my roof? Here's what it looks like now. No, I didn't climb back on the roof.

The broccoli is doing good with a few large heads already. I noticed my wife salivating a little while looking at it. A little bit of gardeners anxiety that I talk about a lot.

The Cauliflower is doing equally as well but is not quite as far along, with the little heads only slightly bigger than a golf ball. You will notice the leaves curled over the heads. This is called a self-blanching variety, keeping the sunlight off the heads, thereby keeping them white and not yellowing and wanting to bolt. I jouust losve callifouor. Oh, sorry. Now I'm salivating all over the keyboard. Thinking how good, firm and crisp those heads are getting, I can barely type on these wet keys. Did I mention that I just love cauliflower.

The Romaine lettuce has been getting eaten for weeks now but there are still several heads left.

The head lettuce is starting to have heads now. They never head out and are ready to pick in the time they are supposed to for me. At least they are not too prone to bolt.

The Buttercrunch, however, is another story. I don't know why I still buy it as it always bolts.

Lastly is the Red Cabbage. I've always had better luck with the greens but all I could find this year was the red. The reds seem to grow slower and are more prone to bolt. I can see little heads forming so maybe I'll be cutting cabbage heads before spring.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The last of the garden color[I think]

It got down to twenty four degrees night before last. I expected to see a bunch of plants that had died back to the ground, expired for the winter. I guess the cold didn't last for very long as nothing was damaged to any great extent.

I don't keep any extensive records on my gardening, so I can't be for sure, but it seems like there are more blooms at this time of winter/fall than in previous years. Not complaining mind you. However, some of the plants are still covered in blooms. Surely this will be the last as this weekend is supposed to get cold and stay cold for several days. So, here's one last show of color.

The Copper Canyon Daisy still has a lot of blooms on it and of course still smells great when you brush up against it.

This Mexican Bush Sage is still just stunning. When people ask me about plant choices I always say, all the Mexicans thrive in Texas.

The Plumbago has clusters of blooms but not as many as earlier. I love having it because of its true blue color and there are not many true blue color choices for the garden. It is my choice for blue.

All the roses have had a few blooms...even as of today. Visitors comment on how good I am with roses but my blogging buddies will know from my pictures that I just grow the easy-to-grow varieties. It does make me look wise to the uninformed though.

This is Red Cascade. It's still small but I really like its creeping habits. The blooms are only about the size of a quarter but sometimes it really loads up.
This is a small pink rose that someone gave me. They told me the name but because of my pathetic record keeping I no longer know it. It has done well, seems very hardy, and has a habit of putting on a lot of blooms down in the plant where you can hardly see them. Those hidden blooms get cut and taken to Fran at the feed store. Maybe someone out in the blog-o-sphere will know what it is.

The Mutabilis says "what cold."

Everyone should have a Knock Out rose and every one just might as it is the most popular rose sold today. And it should be. No rose tries harder to thrive or is easier to grow. I know where there are two growing at a storage place and they never get watered, or pruned, have been run over with vehicles and still bloomed on and off all this hot dry summer. Damn, I think I've talked myself into buying another.
This next rose is my favorite. As my niece used to say "It's the bestest." If only one bloom opens then the other aromatics in that end of the garden will be completely overwhelmed with the rose aroma of it. Hands down the strongest aroma of any rose I've ever smelled. It's the Don Juan. I've always called him Lover Boy. I know, it is completely goofy for a grown man to name a plant but I swear it's the only one. No, really, I mean it, it's the only one. It is usually darker than this but right now the red is really about like the picture. Maybe because of the cold. This is the only cluster of blooms on it but I was thankful for them. I just love that smell.

The only rose that hasn't bloomed in quite a while is the Mermaid and it actually looks almost dead. It's my least favorite but it is a beauty in a flat rose kind of way.

While poking around through the bushier parts of the garden I came onto several Oxalis, both green and maroon. The green seems to like this cooler weather as it has been blooming ever since the heat subsided. The maroon looks as if it's about to start blooming.

I don't know where the butterflies go when the temps drop at night but I sure know where they go when the day warms back up. They go to the Greg's Mist flower or the Indigo Spires Salvia. I believe it's a tough choice so it's good I have them planted close together. Good too, that they are still blooming.
The Indigo Spires has bloomed all summer, off and on, and still looks pretty good.
Indigo Spires

Greg's Mist Flower with butterflies

That's going to be about it for the garden color this year as I think it's all about to end soon with the weather getting colder fast. But if I find any more lurking in the hidden places that all gardens have I will post them up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some of the last of fall color

We got a freeze last night, 26 degrees. There wasn't enough moisture to have a frost though. I was amazed at how little things were effected. Not much damage at all. I think we may be at the end of the fall color. I already posted some color in the garden last week. Here's some more I didn't get to.

Big Mama Turks Cap

Fall Shrimp plant

Green Shrimp Plant

Giant petunias with a volunteer cosmos in the foreground. These petunias usually get over head-high but only managed about four feet this year.

The trailing Rosemary finally bloomed. I was getting a little gardener's anxiety about it. Thought it wasn't going to bloom at all this year.

I had forgotten about my Strawberry Gomphrena until it bloomed.

The Stonecrop finally bloomed in the big limestone planter. I got this planter from a nursery that had it for years and it hadn't sold. They told me if I could carry it out to my truck I could have it. I don't know how much it weighs, but it's a bunch. I wanted it bad and, well, it's mine now.

The Tropical Sage and the Duranta make a wonderful color combo when looking out the yucca gate.

Well, the Flame Acanthus had to flame on just one more time. You can see the two different varieties in the picture. The true native is in the background.

Stay tuned, there is more fall color to come in a few days.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Those darn Buzzards

My wife was already gone this morning when I woke. I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped on the switch. Nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch. Had to be a breaker. I got dressed, went down stairs, out the door, around the house to the breaker box to flip the breaker. Uuuummm, all the breakers are on. Most welders are also usually pretty good electricians, but not me. I had to think this through. Ah ha, the big switch box on the power pole. I headed around the shop, thinking about how much closer I was getting to a hot cup of coffee. I could almost smell that coffee now. Uh oh, everything looks good here too. Now what to do. I was just about to settle on going to the feed store down the road for my coffee when Bonnie, my Blue Lacy dog started to growl. She was looking over the fence into the neighbors pasture. I looked over the fence to see what the problem was. There was the problem, or at least the cause of my problem.

It appeared that said buzzard had lit on the power pole, causing a short between two lines and blowing the big fuse on the top of the pole. And he paid for it with his carrion eating life too. Poor guy. I have to admit that I felt sorry for him (or her as the case may be). I kind of like buzzards. They have a job to do and it's a job that needs doing. And they are stricken with being really ugly while doing an equally ugly job as well. Poor guy.

While I felt sorry for the poor fried buzzard I did not feel sorry for his buddy perched here on my roof. For some reason they love to sit on the peak of my roof as do the Great Horned owls. I don't mind the owls so much as they just sit there and hoo hoo but the buzzards have to walk back and forth making scratchy noises on the tin. It just drives my dogs crazy. I usually have to go out on the upstairs deck and walk around on the porch roof and scare them off.

While I was up there I did notice this aerial view of the beds that my wife just planted. It certainly gave me a new perspective of the vegetable gardens.

In the end I went to the feed store for my coffee, the poor buzzard lost his life, and a couple of hours later the power was restored. Regardless of what you've read about PEC, the company is a super bunch of people who truly strive to keep you in electricity. They are always so nice and help out any way they can. I've seen them on the side of the road changing a flat for someone. They also have a great magazine they send out. I am really glad to be serviced by them on my electricity. Other than the occasional ice storm or buzzard you will have electricity--and coffee.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fall color

With these cooler temps that we have been having, a lot of plants have decided to fit one more flush of blooms in and a nice range of colors as well.

The pink Turks Cap hadn't bloomed all summer but the conditions must have gotten right.

All three of my Ruellias have decided to bloom again.

This Ruellia normally gets over five feet tall and blooms in profusion, but this year the heat kept the blooms to a minimum. With this cooler weather it knew it was its time to bloom. But it only got to about four feet tall.

The pink and yellow Lantana decided the butterflies needed a boost before the first frost so it had a medium flush of blooms, albeit mostly all yellow.

The Salvia Greggii did well all summer but had been without blooms for a while. But here they come again.

You can see the two Flame Acanthus behind this pink and white Salvia Greggii that are about to burst into flame again.

I don't know what kind of Salvia this little one is as it was a gift from a Native Plant Society friend and was unmarked. It couldn't cope with the heat and my stinginess with the water and didn't bloom all summer. It finally bloomed and I am so happy with it. Red is my favorite garden color. I probably have too much red in the garden but hey, it's my garden.

The Euriops and the Esperanza add a little yellow to the garden. The Esperanza blooms are a washed out kind of yellow and not as bright as they were earlier.

I found these two little Esperanzas growing out of cracks in a big rock. They're really entrenched in there and I can't get them out. So I guess I'll just leave them and see what happens.

There are more reds scattered through the garden like the Hummingbird plant in the little rock-lined bed by the back steps. This bed was a real problem as it seemed nothing I planted there did well. But this plant has just flourished.

I think in years to come the Hummingbird plant will completely fill this bed up and will really be a dazzling display of red color.

This next red is a "gimme" plant. I don't really like geraniums and I like miniaturized plants even less. But if someone gives me a plant, I will find a place and take care of it. This one surprised me. It didn't bloom all summer and I thought it might just be a non-bloomer but in reality I think the temperature wasn't to its liking until now. It's a real beauty and I really like it.

A little pink jewel peeking out of the Lariope caught my eye and I had to take a picture. I don't really remember planting this little Oxalis but it was a pleasant surprise.

This Ocatillo was one of those gardener anxieties I've talked about. I dug it up on a ranch in west Texas last October and it has been unchanged ever since. I thought it had taken hold but was unsure as Ocatillo looks for all the world dead until it leafs out. And it finally did. Could a big blooming be in the near future? I sure hope so as they are a beautiful blood red. Did I mention, I like red.

There are more blooms still but this post is getting long so they will have to wait until later.